Female smokers face many risks

From Press Reports

Patti Beard, 54 and a Warren County native, started smoking at age 18 while in college “because everyone else was doing it and it was cool.”

Beard quit smoking 34 years later because her dream of watching her only child grow up and have her own children was more important than her own addiction. “Smoking was impacting my breathing, so I didn’t want to risk the chance of how it would continue to impact my health. I quit a year and a half ago and hope I quit before I caused damage that may show up later,” said Beard.

Women like Beard are increasingly being targeted by the tobacco industry through elaborate marketing campaigns. All too often these marketing campaigns are used to reduce women’s fear of the health risks from smoking by depicting positive images, such as celebrities using tobacco.

“Mississippi women are a major target of the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is targeting women with cleverly thought-out marketing campaigns in order to replace smokers who will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases with new users,” said Roy Hart, director of the Office of Tobacco Control with the Mississippi State Department of Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, female smokers are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, higher rates of infertility, premature labor, low birth-weight infants, cervical cancer, early menopause and bone fractures. Smoking during pregnancy adversely affects fetal development. It also increases infant mortality rates, which is the rate at which babies under one year of age die.

“The facts are clear: smoking kills,” said Verna Fleming, project director of the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Choctaw, Montgomery & Webster Counties. “But there are opportunities for Mississippi’s female tobacco users to win the war against their addictions. Women who get help are twice as likely to quit for good.”

“With all of the resources available today to help, there has never been a better time to quit smoking,” said Fleming.”

For more information, visit the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at www.quitlinems.com or call 1-800-QUITNOW or 1-800-784-8669.